Journal of Economic Issues

Volume 30, December 1996

Journal of Economic Issues

Volume 30, December 1996

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Zein-Elabdin, Eiman

Development, Gender, and the Environment: Theoretical or Contextual Link? Toward an Institutional Analysis of Gender

Two paradigms have dominated the current discourse on development, gender, and the environment: sustainable development and ecofeminism. This paper argues that each paradigm is based upon an essentialist definition of women and their relationship to the environment: rationality in the case of sustainable development and environmental empathy in ecofeminism. Both paradigms overlook the institutional context within which women interact with the environment. The paper suggests an analysis of gender as institutionalized habits of thought within particular substantive economies and environments. This "old" institutionalist perspective is the one most likely to fully legitimate gender as a subject of discourse in economics. J. Econ. Issues, December 1996, pp. 929-947, Franklin & Marshall College, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, U.S.A

Clark, Norman

Decision Tools for Public Policy: Can We Do Without Economics?

This paper puts forward a set of broad suggestions about how computerized decision tools may be used to inform issues of public policy. In so doing it explicitly criticizes conventional economic analysis on three grounds: it can only handle a limited set of the variables that are associated with such issues. It has no theory of the structural changes normally encountered in economic systems. Its use runs up against severe information constraints in complex situations. A total systems approach is likely to produce better results but needs practical integration to permit constructive dialogue among different professional interests. J. Econ. Issues December 1996, pp. 949-966, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Lawson, Clive

Holism and Collectivism in the Work of J.R. Commons

Criticisms of J.R. Commons allege that his work exemplifies an untenable form of holism and/or collectivism. The argument of this paper is that Commons attempts to theorize a conception of social relations. In orthodox economics social relations are effectively absent and explanatory accounts are usually exhaustively categorized into those focusing upon individuals and those focusing upon collectives or wholes with individual-like characteristics. Given this it is easy to see how Commons's work can be mischaracterized. However, such criticisms actually serve to identify problems internal to the individualist position from which they proceed. J. Econ. Issues, December 1996, pp. 967-984, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Nyland, Chris

Taylorism, John R. Commons, and the Hoxie Report

Taylorism is commonly associated with deskilling and the disempowerment of labor. This article adds to recent literature that has challenged this perspective by examining John R. Commons' assessment of Taylor's management system. This clarifies the nature of Taylor's thought and reveals new insights into Commons' character. Evidence underpinning the demonised view of Taylor is examined and attention is given to the evolution of Commons' thought. Particular emphasis is given to the links between Taylor and the University of Wisconsin, the explication of Commons' views and Robert Hoxie's Scientific Management and Labor. J. Econ. Issues, December 1996, pp. 985-1016, University of Wollongong, Wollongong NSW, Australia

Edgren, John

Modeling Institutional Change: Some Critical Thoughts

This paper examines the theory of instituitonal change presented by Paul D. Bush in 1987. A summary of central elements of the theory is offered in order to identify broad areas where there are problems. For example. Communities are thought to be organic, with many attributes of persons. Further, the core idea of value has problematic elements: it is hard conceptually or practically to distinguish ceremonial from instrumental values; ceremonial values are critical, yet not subject to analysis. The paper concludes with a brief suggestion for reformulating the value concept. J. Econ. Issues, December 1996, pp. 1017-1029, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, U.S.A.

Swaan, Wim and Lissowska, Maria

Capabilities, Routines, and East European Economic Reform: Hungary and Poland Before and After the 1989 Revolutions

The question considered is to what extent the reforms under state socialism have shaped market or customer-oriented capabilities. A comparison of enterprise behavior in Hungary and Poland after the abolition of directive planning instructions is presented. The implications for the transformation process following the disintegration of state socialism are considered. Special attention is paid to the role of path dependence and the simultaneity of incentives, institutions and capabilities in shaping economic performance. The paper concludes with a discussion of the degree to which an evolutionary approach in positive, analytical terms is equivalent to normative, "gradualist" policy recommendations. J. Econ. Issues, December 1996, pp. 1031-1056, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary; Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, Poland.

Poirot, Clifford

Macroeconomic Policy in a Transitional Environment: Romania, 1989-1994

Through an examination of the political and economic situation in Romania, the paper explores the inherent difficulty in carrying out a coherent and consistent stabilization policy in an environment characterized by radical uncertainty in all sectors of the economy. Romania was perhaps the most economically closed socialist country and is still one of the worst economic performers in the region. The hybrid policy of restrictive demand management and slow institutional reform of the past five years as done little to improve matters. Political uncertainty exacerbates the situation. J. Econ. Issues, December 1996, pp. 1057-1075, American University in Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

Beed, Clive and Beed, Cara

Polarities Between Naturalism and Non-Naturalism in Contemporary Economics: An Overview

In the context of the philosophy of the social sciences, this paper draws out polarities between competing tendencies in contemporary academic economics. It explores how naturalistic and non-naturalistic frameworks of thinking about economics differ in philosophical presuppositions, theory formulation and appraisal, and relations with other social sciences. J. Econ. Issues, December 1996, pp. 1077-1104, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia

Prasch, Robert E.

The Origins of the A Priori Method in Classical Political Economy: A Reinterpretation

The first third of the nineteenth century saw the method of rationalism rise to dominance in English political economy. In retrospect, we can see that the a priori method of the classical school was not the rationalism of Descartes. On the contrary, the Scottish Common Sense philosophy was initially adapted for political economy by Dugald Stewart. This method, which was thought of as a variety of non-Humean empiricism, was adopted by prominent writers such as Jean Baptiste Say, James Mill, and John R. McCulloch. It was given its most formal expression int he work of Nassau Senior and Richard Whately. J. Econ. Issues, December 1996, pp. 1105-1125, Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, U.S.A.

Quinn, Kevin

A Rhetorical Conception of Practical Rationality

The implications of rhetoric for economics extend beyond the methodological, meta-economic realms. Building on the work of rhetoricians and philosophers, a "thick" rhetoric is described that supports a conception of practical rationality that challenges the conceptions of agency, choice and freedom employed by rational choice theory. A rhetorical conception of practical reason would be non-algorithmic, emphasizing our ability to choose reasonably without commensurating options; it would emphasize reasons for action that emerge from a quest for "self-understanding" and not merely from the pursuit of interest; it would underwrite a conception of positive freedom. J. Econ. Issues, December 1996, pp. 1127-1142, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, U.S.A.

Sheridan, Jerome W.

The Deja Vu of EMU: Considerations for Europe from Nineteenth Century America

This paper argues that the structure, dynamics and problems of the antebellum American monetary system resemble those of the modern European Monetary System. Because of these similarities, the American experience in creating a common currency during its Civil War has important implications for the proposed creation of a common currency in Europe today. The institution of a common currency will contribute to political and economic integration of the EU, but it will also become a divisive political issue. J. Econ. Issues, December, 1996, pp. 1143-1161, American University's Brussels Center, Brussels, Belgium

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